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Parkland shooting survivors push for gun reform

In the aftermath of the Parkland high school mass shooting, students are leading the way in calling for gun reform. On Sunday, the survivors announced they are planning a march this spring in Washington, D.C., a day after they criticized lawmakers and the National Rifle Association at an emotional rally in Fort Lauderdale. Jason Dearen of Associated Press joins Hari Sreenivasan for more.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Good evening. Thanks for joining us. More is being learned about the Parkland Florida high school shooter. While calls for gun reform are growing louder, the Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper spoke with the family that took Nicholas Cruz into their home after his mother's death – "We had this monster living under our roof and we didn't know." Kimberly Snead told the paper, "We didn't see this side of him." Just five days prior to the shooting Kimberly Snead had taken Cruz to her own therapist. The Sneads, gun owners themselves, say they made Cruz put his guns in a safe insisting they didn't know until the massacre on Wednesday that he kept a key. The principal of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Ty Thompson posted an emotional video to the school community. As classmates were laid to rest this weekend some of those students announced a national march on Washington to demand action on gun control. Earlier today I spoke via Skype with another survivor.

  • RYAN DEITSCH:

    We've had enough. We are the generation that was born after Columbine. We have lived with is our entire lives and now it happened at my school. I spent two hours in a closet just hiding and I am done hiding. We're done hiding. America has done hiding.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The students have their work cut out for them. Senator James Lankford said he was not opposed to stronger background checks but resisted calls to ban certain weapons. The president is scheduled to hold what's being called a listening session with high school students tater this week. For more, I'm joined by Jason Dearen who has been covering the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting for the Associated Press. He joins us via Skype from Parkland, Florida just outside the high school. Jason, we're used to seeing vigils and candlelight vigils over. But what we saw yesterday was very different.

  • JASON DEAREN:

    I think what we've seen this time is, you know, the morning after the shooting while there were still bodies inside the school, students at vigils and in TV interviews really started venting their anger towards the politics of gun control and wanting to see change and I've talked to many 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds out here, both from this high school and others in the region. And there's a lot of fear about the future about their safety. And that's also turning into anger and in some cases some political activists activists.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And this is different from other shootings that you've covered like the Las Vegas shooting or the Orlando nightclub?

  • JASON DEAREN:

    Not yet. In all of the shootings that I've covered, there have always been calls for gun control afterwards. What's different this time is that the victims were in high school. They're of an age now where they feel comfortable going on camera and speaking about their feelings about gun control and their fear for going back to school. And so I think what's different this time is we're seeing the people actually affected from this school and also other schools in the region and the country speaking out in a way that we really hadn't seen before from a big group of young people. You know there have been calls for gun control, of course, after any other mass shooting. But unlike Newtown where the victims were so young, I think we see that the people at this school are of an age where they feel comfortable speaking out and getting politically active. And that's the difference. Whether it makes a difference in the long run that one need to be seen.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So this is the momentum different or their ability to organize different?

  • JASON DEAREN:

    I think so. The momentum is still, you know, pretty soon after the shooting and things are still raw so seeing a lot of that anger but there are plans being made now to organize a march to Tallahassee, the state capital of Florida. So I've heard some plans of a march in Washington by youth. There are also around the country calls for walkouts of school and this coming week, not just in Florida but in other states that we're finding. So it does seem to be a little bit different this time because the kids in high school feel comfortable speaking for themselves.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right Jason Dearen of the Associated Press joining us via Skype just outside the high school in Florida. Thanks so much.

  • JASON DEAREN:

    Thank you.

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